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How We Made Saving Fun

Lauren and I decided that we wanted to buy an iPad. But since we don’t like spending money, we decided that we were going to pay for it only from new money. What that means is that we weren’t going to use money that we expected. So we couldn’t use money from my normal paycheck, no counting any fake savings, and no counting the $4,100 tax refund that we were expecting (because we earned that money a long time ago, it just happens to be hitting our bank account all at once).

Our Saving Rule: Only Count New Money

What would count? Anything we sold on eBay, any real savings from discount that we weren’t expecting, and anything that we planned on paying for but paid less than full price.

The goal was $300 (we knew someone selling one they won at a discount). We immediately set to work.

How We Reached Our Savings Goal

I sold a bunch of random stuff that was sitting in our closet. After all the eBay and PayPal fees, it came out to $167.

I asked TurboTax for a discount on their tax filing software, so instead of paying $74.99 for my federal return and $36.99 for my state return, I was only charged $19.99. That’s another $91.99. There was really no way around filing my taxes and I was expecting to have to pay the full price, so simply asking for a discount saved me a lot of money.

We returned a pair of jeans I bought on sale but never wore (but spent part of that savings on a new tie). Add another $18.

Lauren was able to get us under our food budget by about $25 this month, so we added it on.

Add that all up, and it comes to $302. We hit our goal in about 3 weeks!

For the past 5 months, I’ve complained to Lauren that we were spending too much on food. I just didn’t see how we could be spending so much money. We bring lunches to work/school. We eat out about twice a month, so almost all of the spending came from groceries. It seemed like we would come home from the supermarket and still have nothing to eat. After a few months, I stopped believing that we were still just stocking up on ingredients that we’d be able to use over and over.

Why Saving For Goals Helps So Much

We’re still spending more than I’d like, but for 2 weeks, I think the savings is impressive. Maybe we got smarter about what we bought and paid attention to what was on sale instead of keeping to a strict live. But when saving on groceries meant spending on something else, saving became fun.

There was a carrot out there that we wanted, and we were willing to work hard to get it. Hopefully this carries over going forward because who wouldn’t like an extra $300 to put toward a vacation fund?

Once we reached our goal, we sat down and thought about all the things we’d use an iPad for. It turns out, not much. So we put that idea on hold and have a $300 in fun money that we’ll spend at some point, either on a weekend getaway or some fun activity or purchase that won’t make us feel guilty. But for 3 weeks we made saving fun instead of a chore.

Readers, do you save with a goal in mind?



  1. Making a game of saving is much more motivating than just doing it to do it. I think it is funny you worked to get the money then decided against the iPad though. I wouldn’t really use one either so I understand why you decided against it.

    • @Lance@MoneyLife&More, haha yah, the good new is that we don’t have to give the money back :)

      We’ll find something we value more, but the other advantage of saving up is that we waited to buy and realized we didn’t really need or want it.

  2. That is a great idea. I am also in the iPad market, so maybe I’ll have to take this challenge on. The only problem is I will have to pay full price because I don’t know anyone selling one. ;)

  3. Absolutely save with a goal in mind. otherwise you don’t know what you’re saving for, which leads to two problems. 1) You lack the motivation and 2) It becomes tempting to just spend the money if it’s there and it doesn’t have something for which it’s assigned.

    Great job!

  4. This is such a fun idea. Even if you don’t end up buying the iPad, that’s an extra $300 that, like you said, you can have fun with! I’m not a huge fan of spending money either, so this is a fun way to help with spending-phobia.

  5. Awesome job! I love this and I will be doing this for goals in my future. You saved it so fast also!

  6. Hi Daniel!! Of course, I have save this plan in my mind for future that’s helpful tips of us. Here I have found one more thing “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”

  7. Making saving fun is insurance for actually reaching your goals. Otherwise, it leads to just frittering it away without even knowing it.

  8. I like how you set goals – I think it helps with how you feel emotionally and mentally about saving. It’s great to make it fun, especially with the “carrot” in mind. I think it’s interesting you decided not to get the iPad! Maybe a shift in mindset was what you needed more than a tangible goal.

  9. This is a really great idea and something I probably have never kept track of or put on paper. For my next big purchase or the next few times I make “new” money I’m going to start keeping track of it. Thanks for the great idea.

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